The Bad Mood and the Stick

illus. by Matthew Forsythe. 48p. Little, Brown. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316392785. POP
PreS-Gr 2—Cause and effect get the Snicket treatment in this amusing tale. Because of the bad mood—visually represented as a frowning, multicolored cloud—Curly pokes her brother with the stick. Instead of following the familiar arc of her misbehavior, regret, and reconciliation, the story veers into unexpected territory: the poking completely cheers up Curly and the bad mood transfers to Curly's mother. (Parents will groan in utter recognition.) The bad mood and the stick then go on to affect other characters across the town, resulting in a wedding attended by "everyone in this book." All of this unfolds in the understated voice that Snicket does so well, particularly with the slyly funny repeated phrase "You never know what is going to happen." Forsythe's thickly outlined gouache, ink, and pencil illustrations add retro flair to the story. The various white- and brown-skinned humans resemble Peanuts characters with their heavy outlines, circular heads, and cartoonishly simple yet expressive faces. Pair with Fortunately by Remy Charlip and discuss predictions, or with Judith Viorst's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day for more on bad moods and their causes.
VERDICT A cheerfully wacky read-aloud sure to brighten listeners' moods.

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